You may have heard the term “woman’s work”. It was probably uttered many times in your youth, but now is reserved for “Archie Bunker” re-runs or as a general plot device in lieu of hanging an “ARCHAIC DOOFUS” sign over a TV or movie character’s head.
But historically, there has been a breakdown of domestic responsibilities along gender lines. In caveman times, the men would go out, slay a mammoth, and drag it home while avoiding other dangerous beasts. The women would cook it up, feed it to the family, then spend the rest of the time cleaning off their animal bone plates and utensils while the men spent a few days with their hands down their loin cloths.
Gender roles basically remained constant throughout history until at least my parents’ generation, in which “man’s work” was going to his job, bringing home a paycheck, then falling asleep on the recliner with the newspaper on his face. “Woman’s work” was pretty much everything else. I must say that this looked like a pretty sweet deal that was coming to me. I couldn’t wait.
But…things have kind of been shaken up over the last several decades and it’s not so clear as to what is “man’s work” and what is “woman’s work” anymore. In fact, just about everything seems to be negotiable. However, one task has remained firmly in the grip of man ever since the dawn of the flushing toilet. Yes, the wielding of the toilet plunger. It doesn’t matter who is responsible for the initial situation. A child, the wife, an extended family member, a neighbor, the Pope, the cat… Somehow, it’s understood that the man is going to be taking care of this.
Is it because of our brute strength is legendary? Is it because our wisdom of all things is unmatched throughout the house? Is it because we are irresistible to women when we are working the plunger? Probably. Even so, I told my wife that I wasn’t buying any of that.
You wouldn’t think a small child could possibly foil the inner workings of the technological marvel that is the modern commode. I have tried to impart life’s most important lesson on the children from an early age. Yeah, there’s that golden rule thing, but I’m talking about the preemptive flush. Ever since the government stopped allowing us to flush a 55 gallon drum full of water with each flush, we’ve had to use our mind just as much as our behind.
Do you routinely put your entire meal in your mouth before swallowing it? Of course not. The toilet works the same way. If you are going to be “feeding” it a lot, let it use a few swallows instead of just one big gulp. You don’t want to need that Heimlich maneuver. Hence, the preemptive flush. Why do kids 1/4 of my size block up the toilet 10 times more than I do? I mean, besides the fact that they use half of a roll of paper with each flush and probably include a small toy and the TV remote as well.
And then there’s that matter of taking the garbage out…